Sunday, March 8, 2009


Che, a 4 hour and 23 minute work of art from Steven Soderbergh, is a film I finally was able to see after a six month wait. I can only describe my anticipation as that of a Star Wars fan had when waiting for Episode I - The Phantom Menace to be released.

Syriana and Traffic, also by Soderbergh, rank among my favorites. I have a fascination with the mechanics and process of revolution. The point being here is that this movie was made to order for me. I thought the movie was [insert superlative here]

A review of the film is not in order here, but a description of my experience at the theatre is. Yes. The film is long. The time does not include a 15 minute intermission. It was a "bring your lunch" affair, which I think some patrons actually did. I cut back on liquids and arrived fully fed. A short drink from the water fountain at intermission was all that I required. I might add that Che did not have credits before or after either of the two parts. No coming previews. No movie trivia or ads. No messages. Nada. It started right at 7:15 without warning. Not even a producer's trademark was displayed. Part I and part II opened with a map of Cuba and South America respectively, The nearly 5 hours spent at Indianapolis' Keystone Art Theatre was devoted to watching THE film.

In lieu of showing the credits, viewers were handed a high quality playbill listing the hundreds of artists and technical personnel that worked on the epic. The admission was $15, which for a Saturday night and on a per minute basis, seemed to be a good value. The fact that I went alone defrayed the cost of the evening. Of the 70 or 80 that attended, I counted only six couples. No children attended. The crowd was taciturn. Not a peep. Che would have to rank as the worst date movie EVER.

If you are still not discouraged from seeing this masterpiece in this state, it (will be broken down into two films when begins playing "in theatres, everywhere"); wait. I still have a caveat:
If you do not know much about Ernesto "Che" Guevara, the Cuban revolution , and US foreign policy in Latin America, particularly in the mid 2oth century, then this film will not make that much sense to you . Many of the passing references made assume an informed viewer. Soderbergh's style involves cutting to various times and places. This would only add to the confusion. Much of Che Guevara's story is omitted. In part one, the focus is the time between establishment of operations in the Sierra Maestra and the liberation of Santa Clara. In part II, Che's demise in Bolivia is the focus. His largely unsuccessful involvement Castro's revolutionary government is barely mentioned. I hesitate in designating myself a buff. I am, though, well read about the subject of the film.

Lastly, if you idolize the mythical Guevara, or are anywhere right-of center politically, you will probably be hung up by neutral portrayal of Che.

Esoteric, to say the least.

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